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Infinite Jest Audiobook

Infinite Jest

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Audible Editor Reviews

"Pratt is a startlingly good narrator, dry and expressive, with the kind of vocal control that evokes dozens of characters with only slight but very distinctive variations of accent and affect.... Pratt hears the humor in Wallace's work, and lets you in on the joke without resorting to overheated wackiness. His control and stamina are impressive." (John Schwartz, The New York Times Book Review)

Publisher's Summary

A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.

Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.

Please note: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material, including endnotes, will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

A Note from Hachette Audio
We are deeply honored to be the audio publisher of David Foster Wallace's works, and are keenly aware of the great responsibility that attends the privilege. We felt that it was important to make Infinite Jest accessible in the audio format as soon as we were able, and are gratified to find that there is an audience that has been waiting for just this occasion.

Some early listeners have been disappointed that the novel's endnotes are currently available only in text form, to be read. Choosing to include the endnotes as a downloadable PDF file, rather than as a recording by the narrator, was a difficult decision for all involved, and we debated different options at length before beginning production. The audio format allows us great opportunities to showcase Wallace's love of language and grammatical dexterity, to illuminate characters and their relationships, and to bring out some of the unique humor inherent in his work. However, there are also certain limitations to the format, and we needed let go of some of our preconceived notions about the form of Infinite Jest, as we must when we adapt any complex work to audio.

The compromise we ended up with was heavily influenced by practical concerns, especially those regarding the limitations of current technology. Because some of the endnotes are pages-long digressions, if we had them read in line with the main narrative, we would have run the risk of making the already complex story unfollowable for listeners. In the end, we decided the audiobook would flow best by having the endnotes indicated by number throughout the narrative by an additional narrator. However, we acknowledge that these choices may not work for all listeners. Accordingly, our future plans are to produce the endnotes as an additional, stand-alone audio piece.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2006 David Foster Wallace (P)2012 Hachette

What the Critics Say

“[A]n exhilarating, breathtaking experience. This book teems with so much life and death, so much hilarity and pain, so much gusto in the face of despair that one cheers for the future of our literature.” (Newsday)

"[A] postmodern saga of damnation and salvation…resourceful, hilarious, intelligent, and unique.” (The Atlantic Monthly)

"[C]ompulsively entertaining… one of the big talents of his generation, a writer of virtuosic skills who can seemingly do anything.” (New York Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 07-21-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 07-21-14 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "AN EXAMINED LIFE"

    “Infinite Jest” is an excruciating story of a closely examined life. Great credit is earned by the original publisher. To complete “Infinite Jest’s” stream-of-consciousness journey is an arduous task. It is too long. As one of Wallace’s characters says, I hear you but the explanation has “too many words”.

    Every created character is a part of who David Foster Wallace is or wants to be. Wallace’s self-absorption, destructive behavior, and vulnerability seep from every ink-stained page; from every enunciated sentence. His “Infinite Jest” becomes real and complete with his wasted suicide at age 46.

    “Infinite Jest” is about addiction. “Infinite Jest” argues that modern civilization is jaded by plenty. Movies, pornography, drugs, and other distracting entertainments are so plentiful that escape from trials of life becomes the purpose of life. Human success is redefined. Escape from conflict replaces drive for money, power, and prestige. Obsessive/compulsive behavior focuses on immediate gratification.

    No question,“Infinite Jest” is a brilliant piece of work. However, it is David Foster Wallace’s “one percenter’s” view of life. This is a sad, depressing story because Wallace trivialized his life by committing suicide. If society is addicted to entertainment then Wallace infers suicide is a harbinger of the future. This is a myopic view of humanity but a true story of a closely examined life.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ᵔᴥᵔ Vancouver, Canada 05-14-13
    ᵔᴥᵔ Vancouver, Canada 05-14-13 Member Since 2013
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    "An absolutely phenomenal story and performance"
    Where does Infinite Jest rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The best. Hands down.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Infinite Jest?

    There are too many.. PT Krause's withdrawal scene has to be one of the most intense scenes ever.


    Which character – as performed by Sean Pratt – was your favorite?

    Honestly, I would say Pratt did a great job with pretty much all of them. It was a relief to hear his narration during some of the conversations, as I can imagine it would be harder to tell who was saying what at all times otherwise, given the dialogue structure. Also, given the ensemble cast of characters, having voices for each really helps with remembering / identification.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. At over 56 hours + endnotes, I'd need at least a couple of breathers in there. I think to really take in everything (or most of... After taking a look at the IJ wiki, i still missed a lot) this novel has to offer, it's best to go for maybe a maximum of two hours or so at a time. Maybe that's just my attention span.. But really, it's not a book you want to rush through. To rush through to the ending would be to miss the point.


    Any additional comments?

    I feel as though there are a few quibbles that need to be addressed. Some of the audio queues for endnotes are missing. Particularly one section of the audio book.. I believe either section 4 or 5 has almost no notifications for end notes for a few hours, missing the upwards of 30 or so in a row. I don't believe that to be an exaggeration, but someone feel free to correct me if my numbers are off. I was actually reading along with the book in hand while listening (it helps me focus on books with this level of density.) so I was able to catch the missing end notes in time, but for other listeners, be wary. Also, as is to be expected with a book approx half a million words long (literally) there are a few changed words, and I did notice that a couple of sentences were omitted in entirety. They weren't crucial, but I did notice. Though, the physical copy of IJ that I own & was reading along with does have a few typos.. so I mean, I think it's almost unfair to expect perfection given the source material.That said I would still definitely give this audio book 5 stars, as it guided me through a book that I definitely would not have got quite so much out of otherwise. I plan to scan through the list of books Sean Pratt has narrated to see if there's anything else he's performed that I'm interested in, because he did such a phenomenal job with this one. Maybe he could take on A Naked Singularity? I'd love to hear his take on Delillo's Underworld or Danielewski's House of Leaves. (Other tomes I've yet to brave..)

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kirill helsinki, Finland 04-14-12
    kirill helsinki, Finland 04-14-12
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    "Could you make footnotes available in audioformat?"
    Would you try another book from David Foster Wallace and/or Sean Pratt?

    Yes.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Sean Pratt’s performances?

    Yes.


    What character would you cut from Infinite Jest?

    I would not cut anything.


    Any additional comments?

    It is really awesome that you have made a audiobook of Infinite Jest. But leaving out the endnotes is a really bad choice as it makes this audiobook hard to listen. I can not stop and read a pdf file in a middle of a bike ride or car trip. You decision makes this audiobook unusable!

    40 of 57 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peregrine Los Angeles, CA, United States 06-23-12
    Peregrine Los Angeles, CA, United States 06-23-12 Member Since 2015

    If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.

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    "I waited years for this audiobook"

    I waited a long time to read Infinite Jest since I depend heavily on audiobooks to keep up on my reading???I have a long commute, a busy job, kids, etc.???so I was very glad to see IJ become available. Having spent a month making my way through it with the audiobook AND a kindle version, reading every footnote, using Internet wikis to keep track of the story, exceptional vocabulary and references, I declare that I loved the book. It's a Ulysses for the 90's, combining erudition and a pop culture sensibility.

    The reader does OK. He puts on some good Boston accents, but he's clearly no French speaker. There are some annoying edits inserted around the first half or so, as some producer clearly freaked out and made him correct the pronunciation of several French phrases and DFW's patented weird vocabulary. Still, give the poor bastard some credit--this must have taken him a month to record.

    I understand the decision to leave out the footnotes, but it does seem like corner-cutting. If DFW were still alive, I bet he would have called for some clever compromise, such as putting the footnotes on a separate audio file in a different voice, or writing some comments for the reader to add, such as "That's just an explanation of the drug he's taking," or "Seriously, don't skip this one." Audiobook makers seem to forget that their products are performances like any other, and need not be a literal recitation treating the text as a sacred object.

    19 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Quintana 06-01-16 Member Since 2016
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    "A brilliant linguistic achievement, but not..."

    ... much of a story.

    Genius is overused, but I believe it applied to David Foster Wallace. The man's knowledge and ability to communicate were nonpareil. Listening to this, I couldn't help but be awed by his command of the language. I could probably randomly go to a section and find a dazzling sentence. That said, I value story much higher than technique and ideally, I like to lose myself in the story and only be aware of technique on a subconscious level. That's impossible to do here. As a lover of language, sure, I enjoyed seeing these verbal acrobatics, but at some point, the story and the characters have to take over. That just didn't happen for me. While I found the characters unique, they were only somewhat interesting. And the story failed to engage me.

    I'm glad I listened to this and don't feel time was wasted. But unlike other long books considered classics -- Ulysses, War and Peace, Anna Karenina -- I have no intention of listening to this again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    . 05-03-16
    . 05-03-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Long and boring "

    The narrator pronounced the "h" in "why", "while", and "white". It was awful. As for the story itself, it thought it was way smarter than it was. Calling Tylenol acetaminophen and plastic bags polyethylene doesn't mean you're saying anything worthwhile.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda CAMP HILL, Pennsylvania 04-07-16
    Linda CAMP HILL, Pennsylvania 04-07-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Hours of listening pleasure (and frustration)"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Reading "Infinite Jest" as an audio book may be the best possible way of doing this book. The narrator (Sean Pratt) injects dozens of voices and effects, so that having him in your ear for 56 hours (yes) is like listening to several radio stations for days at a time. The book is legendary. The author has become mythic. Sure it's long. And there are valleys (it helps if someone is interested in the workings of New England private schools -- I am -- or in the intricacies of playing junior competitive tennis -- I am not) but there are not just hills but mountains. Lots of jokes too. In order to be part of the zeitgeist, it certainly helps to have read this book. If nothing else, it's influenced so many others. Now, perhaps, I'll see the movie.


    What other book might you compare Infinite Jest to and why?

    Of course "Gravity's Rainbow" or any Pynchon. Some "Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas." And a touch of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe" and "Another Roadside Attraction" or any Tom Robbins.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Are. You. Kidding?


    Any additional comments?

    Narrator is brilliant, despite mispronouncing a word or two and stumbling almost every time he had to say "Postlethwaite"
    Heroic job. I hope he was paid amply.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank 03-22-16
    Frank 03-22-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Infinite indeed"

    I'd say I prefer my books to have a beginning and an end, not even necessary in that order but it should wrap up and have a conclusion. closure of some sort. not this one. their were many funny and humorous parts as well as vividly sad stories in rehab settings. No doubt the writing is absolutely great. It rambled along, entertainingly but ultimately to no avail, not for me anyway.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    adam 03-22-16
    adam 03-22-16 Member Since 2011
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    "a terrible audiobook"
    What would have made Infinite Jest better?

    The endnotes should be embedded in the track. I know you claim you've put the endnotes in a totally separate book for the sake of the listeners, but this reasoning is nuts. There's no way on earth anyone actually believes actual human people prefer to

    1) back out of whatever section (the body of the book is 7 downloads) they're in
    2) back out of the book itself to the library
    3) play a totally separate book to hear endnote 243 (or whatever #)
    4) when the endnote is finished (most are less than a minute) go back out to the library
    5) play the original book again
    6) repeat this process 300+ times while you do whatever it is you usually do while you listen to audiobooks (probably the reason you started listening to audiobooks)

    I do agree that having the endnotes embedded *could* be slightly confusing at times, but no one is listening to a 60 hour book without some expectation of putting out effort, and believing possibly the book itself being *worth* putting out effort. Plus, as a consumer, I promise you I'd rather be momentarily confused by the piece of art than DEEPLY FRUSTRATED with the presentation of the book itself for THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE BOOK. Just embed the notes & charge 2 credits for the book.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Pratt is not my favorite generally, but this is the worst I've heard him. I know the book is long, but there are SO MANY places where it's painfully obvious that a word or a few sentences were rerecorded in a separate session. The sound varies quite a lot. The poor recording is a constant reminder of the medium itself, and detracts from the book.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    the book itself sparks a variety of reactions, Audible's presentation sparks frustration


    Any additional comments?

    I've physically read IJ a few times, & I like it quite a lot. This is the worst audiobook I've finished.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Everyday 10-12-15
    Everyday 10-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Can't continue"
    What disappointed you about Infinite Jest?

    I sought this out because it is so well loved. I got about 6 hours in and thought of 50 more hours of listening felt like work, or a task I had to finish. Audiobooks are a part of my every day commute, and for the next two weeks I found myself seeking out anything else to listen to other than returning to this book. I finally took that as a sign. Well written, but I'm just not interested. So, for only the second time in all the books I've listened to, I stopped.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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